Like Linus awaiting the Great Pumpkin, we find ourselves plopped outside our local brew shops each October, anticipating the arrival of the season's bounty of pumpkin ales. The selection is vast -- this year there seem to be more gourd-based brews on shelves than ever. Some are mediocre; some are worth skipping Trick-or-Treating for. These are the ten best you'll find this year.
10. Punkin Ale
Dogfish Head Craft Brewery Inc.
Punkin was one of the first beers Dogfish Head founder Sam Calagione ever made, debuting when it took home first prize during a badass south Delaware event called Punkin Chunkin. Brewed with pumpkin meat, organic brown sugar and dashes of allspice, it's a tasty, approachable introduction to the style.
9. Pumpkin Porter
Four Peaks Brewing Co.
Locally brewed and universally beloved, Four Peaks' most popular seasonal signifies the arrival of fall to Arizonans every year. Pumpkin flavor is subtle in this dark brew, blending smoothly with nutmeg, ginger, cinnamon and crumbled chocolate.
8. La Parcela
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales
Funny story: For the first four years of its existence, Jolly Pumpkin didn't even brew a pumpkin beer. Brewers debuted La Parcela in 2008 to quell the flood of phone calls that rolled in each fall asking for pumpkiny brews. It's brewed pumpkin, spices and cacao, then aged in oak with JP's wild yeast, which gives the beer a subtle tartness.
Get seven more pumpkin beers after the jump.
7. Oak Jacked Imperial Pumpkin Ale
Uinta Brewing Co.
Though it's fairly limited (Uinta only made about 10,000 bottles), Oak Jacked is worth seeking out. The brew's made with pumpkins and spices, then aged in oak barrels for six months, picking up subtle nuances of bourbon and toasted vanilla. Jacked also packs a 10.31 percent ABV punch -- a play on Halloween.
Southern Tier Brewing Co.
If you prefer subtlety in your pumpkin beers, Pumking ain't for you. At 8.6 percent ABV, it's an intense brew -- rich, dessert-like and packed with flavors of sauteed butter, graham crackers, maple and sweet pureed pumpkin.
Midnight Sun Brewing Co.
Known in long form as "The Royal Eccentric Ale Treatment, this imperial chocolate pumpkin porter from Alaska grabbed a gold medal during the 2007 Great American Beer Festival. With an ingredient list boasting pumpkin, cocoa nibs, cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg, TREAT is just that.
New Belgium Brewing
For the newest addition to its Lips of Faith series, Colorado's New Belgium Brewing teamed up with Washingtonian pumpkin ale masters Elysian Brewing Co. Brewed with cranberries and pumpkin before it's aged on wood, Kick is a tart, oaky addition to the fall beer portfolio.
3. The Greater Pumpkin
Heavy Seas Beer
Heavy Seas brews a more pedestrian pumpkin ale called The Great Pumpkin, which is made with pumpkin and 2.5 pounds of spice per barrel. This brew is then added to used bourbon barrels, and from that patch arises The Greater Pumpkin. The mix of brew and booze gives this brew aromas and flavors of buttery maple, orange peel, vanilla, cinnamon and pumpkin.
2. The Great Pumpkin
Elysian Brewing Co.
Perhaps it's a bit backward to have this one ranked above The Greater Pumpkin, but Elysian has earned it. While most breweries have one or two pumpkin beers in the portfolio, Elysian brews more than a dozen, including Dark O' the Moon, Night Owl, Mr. Yuck and Headless Horsey. The Great Pumpkin, brewed with pumpkin and roasted pumpkin seeds then spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and allspice, is their most lauded. The pumpkin love doesn't end there -- every year, Elysian also holds the Great Pumpkin Beer Festival, a celebration of 50 different gourd grogs, some of which are even served from giant pumpkin kegs with taps hammered right in the side.
1. Wasatch Pumpkin Ale
Utah Brewers Cooperative
Brewed with barley and pure pumpkin, spiced like your favorite holiday pie and shipped from Utah, this amber-hued ale flies under the radar, yet is one of the best examples of its style around. A clean flavor of cinnamon, allspice and pumpkin rind is intensified by an aroma so full of pumpkin pie spice you'll keep checking the oven to see if one's baking. Flavorful and drinkable at 4 percent ABV, if there's any pumpkin ale stuff your Halloween candy bag with, this is it.
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